The minimum wage, adjusted for inflation, dating back to 1938.
Today's minimum wage is on par with what it has been, adjusted for inflation, over the last 20 years. But the flattening of the minimum wage is part of a generational decline.
In short, as fast-food workers protest their wages today across the country and urge a minimum-wage increase, public policy has not kept up with how much things cost.
The minimum wage peaked in 1968. Even though it was just $1.60, it had the buying power today of $10.74. But from then on, despite the raw minimum wage being increased 14 times, it has not kept pace with inflation.
Someone working full time - 40 hours a week - at the minimum wage today of $7.25 an hour, would make just $15,080 for the year.
In his State of the Union in February, President Obama called for a minimum-wage hike to $9 an hour, declaring, "Let's declare that in the wealthiest nation on Earth, no one who works full-time should have to live in poverty."
The government considers any individual making less than $11,490 a year to be in poverty. A single mother supporting two children, however, would be considered poor if she made less than $19,350 a year, certainly below the minimum wage.
Even at $9 an hour, she would only make $18,720 for the year.
The minimum wage back to its federally mandated inception in 1938 side by side with what that amount would be in 2013 terms.
Who’s to blame for Congress’ unproductivity?... Living in unprecedented times during divided government… Obama to sit down with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews… On Obama’s economic speech yesterday… And on his challenge to the GOP… Strikes take place in fast-food restaurants across the country… Battling over Pryor’s “Bible” ad… On Rand Paul’s upcoming economic speech… And recount in Virginia AG race to begin on Dec. 16.
Reuters file photo
The U.S. Capitol Dome
*** Who’s to blame for Congress’ unproductivity? By now, you probably know that the last 112th Congress (2011-2012) was the least productive in modern history, according to the available data. And so far, the 113th Congress (2013-2014) is on pace to be even more unproductive. And there are two different arguments for the low output. Democrats, as well as some nonpartisan congressional observers, blame House Republicans for their reluctance to compromise and their insistence (sometimes violated) to bring legislation that only has support from a majority of Republicans. “The Republican Party has become an insurgent outlier -- ideologically extreme; contemptuous of the inherited social and economic policy regime; scornful of compromise,” Tom Mann and Norm Ornstein have written. Meanwhile, House Republicans point the finger at the Democratic-controlled Senate. “To date, the House has passed nearly 150 bills in this Congress that the United States Senate has failed to act on,” House Speaker John Boehner said yesterday. But as The Hill’s Bob Cusask has noted, Boehner had a different standard back in July: “We should not be judged on how many new laws we create; we ought to be judged on how many laws that we repeal.” Indeed, many conservatives argue that slowing down the legislative process by not passing laws is a positive as far as they are concerned.
*** Living in unprecedented times during divided government: Of course, the other argument is that this is what you get during times of divided government. Yet here's the thing: Divided government has NEVER produced such a small number of laws until now.
113th Congress (Obama in the WH, Dem SEN control, GOP House control): 56 laws -- so far
112th Congress (Obama in the WH, Dem SEN control, GOP House control): 283 laws
110th Congress (Bush in WH, Dem SEN control, Dem House control): 460 laws
106th Congress (Clinton in WH, GOP SEN control, GOP House control): 580 laws
105th Congress (Clinton in WH, GOP SEN control, GOP House control): 394 laws
104th Congress (Clinton in WH, GOP SEN control, GOP House control): 333 laws
102nd Congress (Bush in WH, Dem SEN control, Dem House control): 590 laws
101st Congress (Bush in WH, Dem SEN control, Dem House control): 650 laws
100th Congress (Reagan in WH, Dem SEN control, Dem House control): 713 laws
99th Congress (Reagan in WH, GOP SEN control, Dem House control): 663 laws
98th Congress (Reagan in WH, GOP SEN control, Dem House control): 623 laws
97th Congress (Reagan in WH, GOP SEN control, Dem House control): 473 laws
Bottom line: This is an unprecedented level of unproductivity even during a time of divided government. Just look at the best apples-to-apples comparison of Reagan's three Congress' when his party controlled the White and Senate, but Dems controlled the House. It's not even a close call. That Dem House got a lot more done with its GOP rivals than this GOP House has with its Dem counterparts. And the unfavorable comparison continues when comparing this Congress with the divided government eras of Bush and Clinton. And then consider this: Even if you add the 150 House bills Boehner is touting, the productivity still doesn’t come close to what we saw during the Reagan, Clinton, and Bush years.
*** Obama to sit down with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews: With the federal health-care website (sort of) fixed, Democrats are continuing their efforts to prove that they’re no longer playing defense on the issue. President Obama sits down with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews to discuss the health law in a special edition of “Hardball” airing at 7:00 pm ET. Also at 10:00 am ET today, House Democratic leaders will hold a press availability with Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D), who has become a hero to many Democrats and health-reform advocates for how his state has successfully implemented the law so far. But all the news isn’t rosy for Democrats. “The Obama administration was counting on seven million enrollees by the end of the first enrollment period in March, a number that was supposed to ensure a safe mix of sick, older people and young, healthy ones. Because of problems with the federal insurance exchange and the negative publicity around the rollout, the total is likely to be well short of that,” the New York Times says. “Representative Dave Camp, Republican of Michigan and chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, said the administration needed to be enrolling close to 100,000 people a day to meet its target. Because state-based websites are doing better, other calculations put the necessary number closer to 40,000 a day, but few are suggesting the goal of seven million is within reach.”
*** On Obama’s economic speech yesterday: Despite all the attention on the health-care law and the website and the focus on the nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama yesterday addressed what some argue is the sleeper issue for 2014, 2016, and perhaps beyond -- growing income inequality and the lack of economic mobility. “I believe this is the defining challenge of our time: making sure our economy works for every working American,” Obama said. “Since 1979, when I graduated from high school, our productivity is up by more than 90%, but the income of the typical family has increased by less than 8%. Since 1979, our economy has more than doubled in size, but most of that growth has flowed to a fortunate few.” To rectify this, the president called for a higher minimum wage, Congress re-upping unemployment insurance, extra retirement security for Americans, and patience with the implementation of the health-care law. These will all be reiterated during his State of the Union.
*** And on his challenge to the GOP: To us, Obama’s speech was striking because he firmly aligned himself with the progressive side inside the Democratic Party on this issue (as he pretty much did during the 2012 presidential campaign and in that 2011 Kansas speech). Given his stance, we’d be pretty surprised if a Hillary Clinton took a different direction in 2016. Despite some disagreeing voices (like from the Third Way), the Democratic Party doesn’t seem like it will move from this lane. Yet more importantly, it will be interesting to see how the Republican Party responds, especially given the results from 2012. In his speech yesterday, Obama issued this challenge to the GOP: “If Republicans have concrete plans that will actually reduce inequality, build the middle class, provide more ladders of opportunity to the poor, let’s hear them. I want to know what they are. If you don’t think we should raise the minimum wage, let’s hear your idea to increase people’s earnings. If you don’t think every child should have access to preschool, tell us what you’d do differently to give them a better shot. If you still don’t like Obamacare -- and I know you don’t -- (laughter) -- even though it’s built on market-based ideas of choice and competition in the private sector, then you should explain how, exactly, you’d cut costs, and cover more people, and make insurance more secure.”
*** Warren says she’s not running in 2016: By the way, while Hillary Clinton still might have some work to do on her left flank, she is already catching an early break – Elizabeth Warren says she’s not running in 2016.
*** Strikes taking place at fast-food restaurants across the country: This debate about income inequality and the lack of economic mobility isn’t taking place in a vacuum. “Fast-food workers in about 100 cities will walk off the job this Thursday, organizers say, which would mark the largest effort yet in their push for higher pay,” the AP writes. “The actions are intended to build on a campaign that began about a year ago to call attention to the difficulties of living on the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, or about $15,000 a year. The protests are part of a movement by labor unions, Democrats and other worker advocacy groups to raise pay in low-wage sectors.”
*** Battling over Pryor’s “Bible” ad: Turning to the 2014 midterm races, vulnerable Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) has released this provocative TV ad. “I’m not ashamed to say that I believe in God and I believe in this book,” Pryor says to the camera with a Bible in his hands. “The Bible teaches us that no one has all the answers; only God does.” He goes on to say, “Neither political party is always right. This is my compass, my north star [referring to the Bible].” The National Republican Senatorial Committee criticized Pryor’s ad, writing: “Interesting ad, considering the same Mark Pryor was quoted below just last year cautioning that the Bible is ‘not a rule book for political issues.’” The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fired back: “The NRSC should immediately pull down their attack and apologize to Sen. Pryor and other people of faith who don't deserve to have their religious beliefs attacked by political operatives in Washington, DC. This attack was out of bounds. Period." The campaign for Pryor’s GOP opponent, Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR), seemed to agree. “Rep. Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark.) Senate campaign on Wednesday denounced a ‘bizarre and offensive’ attack on Sen. Mark Pryor’s faith by the National Republican Senatorial Committee.”
*** On Rand Paul’s upcoming economic speech: On the 2016 front, Rand Paul is holding a conference call at 9:00 am ET to brief reporters on his upcoming trip to Detroit and speech at the Detroit Economic Club.
*** Recount in Virginia’s AG race begins on Dec. 16: Lastly, the recount in Virginia’s attorney general race will begin on Dec. 16. The AP writes, “Democrat Mark Herring's 165-vote win over Republican Mark Obenshain in the close race for attorney general is headed to a recount Dec. 17 and 18, with Fairfax County getting a one-day head start.”
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*** Thursday’s “The Daily Rundown” line-up: Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) on healthcare, the budget and what’s shaping for 2014; NBC’s Mark Murray with our First Read headlines; Harvard IOP Director and former Kentucky Secy. of State Trey Grayson and former Sen. Mo Cowan (D-MA) on the minds of millennials. NBC’s Katy Tur on minimum wage protests occurring around the country, which we will discuss with our gaggle Politico’s Anna Palmer, former CBC executive director Angela Rye and GOP pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson.
*** Thursday’s “Jansing & Co.” line-up: Guests include Tsedeye Gebreselassie, National Employment Law Project; Dorian Warren, Columbia Professor; Clarence Page, Chicago Tribune, Susan Page, USA Today; DNC Chair, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz; Aisha Moodie-Mills, Center for American Progress and Rick Tyler, Fmr. Gingrich Spokesman.
*** Thursday’s “MSNBC Live with Thomas Roberts” line-up: MSNBC’s Thomas Roberts talks about the Affordable Care Act with Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY) and Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA). Hardball host Chris Matthews discusses his exclusive interview with President Obama as part of the “Hardball College Tour” from American University. McDonalds worker Melinda Topel & Paul Sonn from the National Employment Law Project join Thomas to talk about today’s fast food protests. And today’s Agenda Panel includes Zerlina Maxwell, Sabrina Siddiqui and Taegan Goddard.
*** Thursday’s “NOW with Alex Wagner” line-up: Alex Wagner’s guests include The Wire’s Gabriel Synder, Dem strategist Jamal Simmons, the Daily Beast contributor Patricia Murphy, and Politico’s Glenn Thrush.
*** Thursday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” line-up: NBC’s Andrea Mitchell interviews Judy Gross, whose husband Alan is imprisoned in Cuba, Fmr. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Fmr. Gov. Ed Rendell, The New York Times’ Amy Chozik, the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza, American Federation of Teachers Pres. Randi Weingarten, the Tallahassee Democrat’s Jennifer Portman and NBC’s Pete Williams and Dylan Dreyer.
*** Thursday’s “News Nation with Tamron Hall” line-up: MSNBC’s Tamron Hall interviews the Washington Post’s Ylan Mui, Fast Food Forward organizing director Kendall Fells, NELP executive director Christine Owens, and Sirius XM’s Michael Smerconish.
President Obama plays Hardball tonight and then hosts Hannukah receptions at the White House.
The Hill looks at the potential problem of young people not signing up for the health-care law.
National Journal also notes that “white women” have soured on the law in the past month: “Polling provided to National Journal by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that white women have soured considerably on the law, especially in the month since its botched rollout. The skepticism runs especially deep among blue-collar women, sometimes known as “waitress moms,” whose deeply pessimistic attitudes toward the Affordable Care Act should riddle Democratic candidates with anxiety.”
USA Today: “The 20 states choosing not to expand Medicaid will lose billions of dollars in federal funds, according to a new study released Thursday. By 2022, Texas could lose $9.2 billion by not expanding Medicaid as allowed under the Affordable Care Act, while Florida could lose $5 billion over that period, the study conducted by The Commonwealth Fund shows. Commonwealth was founded in 1918 to improve health services for Americans.”
USA Today: “The number of visitors to the HealthCare.gov website Wednesday hit 310,000 by noon, an 80% increase from the same day last week, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.”
Politico: “The U.S. has transferred two Guantanamo prisoners to their home country of Algeria, rejecting pleas from the men that they not be released because they were likely to be tortured or mistreated in that country.”
Former President George H.W. Bush, who loves his socks, wore a pair yesterday adorning his own face.
Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell talks to "Outside" magazine about her experiences inside and outside of the office. She's climbed Antarctica's Vinson Massif and summated Mount Rainier seven times, but now she faces a very different uphill climb--a hostile Congress, recent government shutdown and President Obama's wavering commitment to environmental issues. But, as Obama notes, "For Sally, the toughest part of this job will probably be sitting behind a desk."
Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) on a possible budget deal: “We are closer every hour.”
Roll Call warns: “Budget negotiators are nearing a deal that could ease the way for leaders to avert another government shutdown before the 2014 elections, but only if rank and file — particularly in the House — buy into the agreement.”
And why don’t you hear much about tax reform? The GOP base doesn’t want it.
Do-Nothing Congress? John Boehner says blame the Senate… The Hill: “Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday defended the legislative record of the House, saying it's passed nearly 150 bills aimed at boosting job creation, all of which have been blocked by Senate Democrats.”
“An American-Iranian group that favors talks with Tehran has launched a petition calling on Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) to apologize for suggesting a nuclear strike against Iran should be on the table,” The Hill writes.
Hunter said on CSPAN yesterday: “If you have to hit Iran, you do it with tactical nuclear devices and set them back a decade, or two or three. I think that’s the way to do it, with a massive aerial bombardment campaign.”
Roll Call looks at the “reception exemption” as we head into the Christmas season, allowing members of Congress to party with lobbyists. The House Ethics Committee issued guidance yesterday: “If there’s a reception, and the sponsor sent word/That no meal’s served. Go! That’s a yes you heard.”
Lobbyists are being warned that some tax breaks that are ending this year won’t be renewed.
The Hill: “Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin (Ill.) and Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Rep. George Miller (Calif.) recently opened their doors to show the real ‘Alpha’ house on Capitol Hill. … The lawmakers’ home inspired Amazon's TV series ‘Alpha House,’ except its fictional stars are Republicans.”
“White House chief of staff Denis McDonough held an unpublicized meeting with Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), chairman of the Senate Democrats’ campaign arm, amid anger and anxiety that ObamaCare’s botched rollout could cost the party its majority next year,” The Hill writes.
Roll Call notes: “The last day of November was billed as a key date for fixing HealthCare.gov, but the real test may come on Dec. 9, when Senate Democrats return to Washington from a two-week break.”
Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid told a Nevada TV station that he thinks the health care law will turn out good for Democrats in 2014: “I think it’s going to be good for them,” he told NBC affiliate KSNV. “By that time, there will be a lot of people on it that have already signed up. It’ll be fine. … We have 21 Democratic senators that are up, and … we’re watching two or three of them closely, but to take over the majority they’d need six seats. I’m not cocky, but I am comfortable where we are. I think we’re in pretty good shape.”
The Hill: “In a significant development, GOP candidates have embraced a concept that was unthinkable a year ago: fixing President Obama’s landmark law. Others, meanwhile, have offered replacement healthcare plans. … Yet, offering to fix a law that is reviled by the GOP base is politically tricky. Some in Republican circles want the law to flop miserably, which would increase the chances of an eventual repeal.”
Maggie Haberman: “Hillary Clinton was the featured attraction at an event honoring the late diplomat Richard Holbrooke and his global work on Wednesday night in Manhattan, where questions focused on her law school days, her race for U.S. Senate, the Osama bin Laden raid and her appointment to the State Department. Missing from the litany of questions from the Carlyle Group’s David Rubenstein was one about the former secretary of state’s view of the Obama administration’s nuclear-freeze deal with Iran, an issue that’s dominated international headlines.”
RNC Chairman Reince Priebus told Hugh Hewitt, per Politico, the RNC is “focusing in” on Hillary Clinton: “We have. So our research shop, along with America Rising, has been focusing in on Hillary Clinton. But I agree with you that there needs to be a more of a focus.”
In another chapter of how’s the reaching out working… Politico writes, “Virginia Rep. Randy Forbes, a senior House Republican eyeing a powerful committee chairmanship, is causing friction with some of his colleagues by pushing the House GOP campaign arm to deny support for some of the party’s gay congressional candidates. Forbes has waged a lengthy crusade to convince his colleagues and the National Republican Congressional Committee brass they shouldn’t back some gay candidates. His efforts on Capitol Hill were described to Politico by more than a half-dozen sources with direct knowledge of the talks.”
And this… Republicans are having to be tutored in how to run against women. One GOP aide told Politico: “Let me put it this way, some of these guys have a lot to learn.”
ALASKA: Kyle Trygstad: “In a unique twist among most Republican Senate primaries this cycle, the fight for the nomination in Alaska has become a two-headed battle for the establishment mantle. … The race for support is between Dan Sullivan, a former Bush appointee with a wealth of Washington connections, and Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who has been in or around Alaska politics for decades. Since entering the race in October, the buzz has centered squarely on Sullivan — even though he’s never run for office before.”
ARKANSAS: “It's never good when a party committee is denounced by a member of its own party. But that's what happened Wednesday, when the Senate campaign of GOP Rep. Tom Cotton of Arkansas denounced as ‘bizarre and offensive’ an attack from the National Republican Senatorial Committee on the religious faith of Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Ark.,” National Journal writes. “Pryor, widely believed to be the nation's most vulnerable incumbent Democrat, launched a television ad on Wednesday clutching a Bible and calling it ‘my compass, my North Star.’
NRSC Communications Director Brad Dayspring, known across Washington for his aggressive style, wrote a blog post about some of Pyror's past comments about the Bible, including a statement last year that it ‘is really not a rule book for political issues.’ So is the Bible Mark Pryor's compass, providing the 'comfort and guidance to do what's best for Arkansas?' Or is it really not a good rule book for political issues and decisions made in the Senate? Guess it depends on which Mark Pryor that you ask,’ Dayspring wrote.”
GEORGIA: “Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) on Wednesday sought to clarify earlier comments that it wasn't the ‘responsible’ thing to let ObamaCare fail, saying he meant the GOP should take an active role in dismantling it. ‘By saying that's not a responsible thing to do, I meant to say, if it's teetering, you have to push it over the cliff,’ he told The Hill. Kingston, who's running for Senate in Georgia against seven other Republicans for his party's nomination, has taken heavy fire from his opponents for comments he made last week that appeared to break with his party's strategy on ObamaCare.”
Republican Mike Collins, running for the open GA-10 seat, is first out of the 2014 gate for offbeat campaign video, going up with a web video of him imitating Jean Claude Van Damme’s split between two trucks. He doesn’t pull off the split, by the way.
FLORIDA: Fights over voting rights are about to be in the spotlight again.
ILLINOIS: Emily Cahn: “A sought-after Chicagoland district will host the state’s most competitive primary, as four GOP hopefuls are feuding to take on Rep. Bill Foster, a Democrat, in 2014. Until recently, Republicans viewed state Rep. Darlene Senger as the GOP front-runner in the 11th District. But according to interviews with more than a half-dozen Illinois Republican operatives, local pols say her lackluster fundraising since she entered the race in April has impeded her ability to clear the field.”
MINNESOTA: Abby Livingston: “GOP state Sen. Torrey Westrom will announce Thursday that he will challenge longtime Rep. Collin C. Peterson, D-Minn., in the 7th District. Westrom, the first legally blind person elected to the Minnesota Legislature, will make the announcement Thursday morning in the northwestern part of the state, according to a news release from the campaign. Westrom is the first Republican to announce a bid against Peterson. Republicans have made the 12-term Democrat a top target in 2014.”
MONTANA: Sens. Max Baucus and Jon Tester as well as Gov. Steve Bullock all endorsed former Baucus staffer John Lewis in the race for the at-large House seat, Roll Call reports. Republicans are favored, but have a primary between state Sen. Matt Rosendale and former state Senate Minority Leader Corey Stapleton.
NEW YORK: Gannett: “Donald Trump spent more than two hours privately Wednesday with a group of Republican lawmakers and operatives who tried to entice him to run for governor next year.”
VIRGINIA: Mark your calendars, the recount dates in the attorney general’s race are set for Dec. 16th in Fairfax County and Dec. 17th in the rest of the state, the Richmond NBC12 affiliate reported.
GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Republican Texas Gov. Rick Perry may not be saying whether he's running for president again, but he sure is acting like it.
His two-day swing through the first-in-the-South primary state had all the hallmarks of a campaign blitz -- jokes about college football; heavy praise of the state's governor, Nikki Haley; and even a blueprint, if a very broad one, of what the Republican Party should be trying to accomplish.
"We have to do more than oppose just oppose this president's agenda. We have to offer a compelling alternative," Perry said Tuesday night at a dinner host by the Spartanburg Republican Party in conjunction with the state GOP.
He also addressed some current events, criticizing the Obama administration for "exploiting" tragedies like the Newtown shooting in order to advance its gun control agenda, and alluding to the recent government shutdown, saying, "If they'll barricade the World War II Memorial, they will stop at nothing to make a political point."
But Perry demurred every time he was asked about his plans beyond early 2015, when his term as governor ends (he has already said he won't run for the office again).
"My focus is on 2014, and it's not going to be distracted, much as you would like to get me to talk about 2016," he told a reporter after a luncheon with business types in the manufacturing hub of Spartanburg.
He was willing, however, to talk about what he might do differently with the benefit of hindsight, having run a 2012 campaign marred by embarrassing hiccups -- most memorably, his "oops" moment during a Nov. 2011 debate when he could not remember the name of a government department he would eliminate if elected (Energy).
"If you're going to run for the presidency, you don't need to have major back surgery six weeks before it starts," he said, referring to medication he was on that his camp blamed for erratic behavior during some of his appearances like at an October speech in New Hampshire.
Perry also said he would focus more on his jobs record as governor of the Lone Star State. "I thought everybody outside the state of Texas knew how successful Texas had been economically. And that wasn't necessarily the case," he said.
The attributes that make Perry a good match for South Carolina voters were on full display during the two-day swing through the state's conservative Upstate: his college football joke, in which he apologized for his alma mater Texas A&M losing to Missouri, which prevented the University of South Carolina Gamecocks from winning the SEC East, was well-received.
So were some of the standard lines that he brought back from his 2012 stump speech, like his references to his tiny hometown of Paint Creek, Texas, which he said his dad referred to as "the Big Empty;" his service flying C-130 cargo planes in the US Air Force; and his attainment of Eagle Scout status.
He also joked that he had the most "country" bona fides out of the Republican presidential field last time around.
"There's always somebody who tries to 'out-country' the others, right?" he asked the members of the Electric Co-Ops of South Carolina, a politically active group that donates to Republican and Democratic candidates. He added that he once told his opponents, "I wouldn't go there with me trying to out-'country boy' me."
He was also quick to lavish praise on the state's high-profile governor, Nikki Haley, saying she keeps him and other governors on their toes in terms of business competition and shares a philosophy of "predictable" regulation. Haley, whose support was highly-sought after during the 2012 election, endorsed Mitt Romney.
Perry was accompanied on this trip through the Palmetto State by the same team he had here during his campaign, among them former SC GOP chairman Katon Dawson and veteran consultant Walter Whetsell. Their aim is to have Perry ready to hit the ground running in South Carolina if he decides to run -- and to have South Carolina ready for Perry.
The Texas governor certainly wanted South Carolinians to know he'll be back soon -- at least next August, when his Aggies take on the Gamecocks in the SEC kickoff game.
One man at a Boy Scouts fundraising luncheon Perry addressed Wednesday invited him to watch that game from the 50-yard line.
"You're on," Perry replied.
U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) said Wednesday that she will not run for president in 2016.
"I'm not running for president, and I plan to serve out my term," she said at a press conference in Boston.
The senator’s office confirmed her statements with NBC’s First Read.
Democrats have highlighted Warren as a viable and more-liberal alternative to Hillary Clinton for the 2016 Democratic nomination.
The former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau won her election for Massachusetts’ senator in 2012. She said she will continue serving in her role as senator through 2018.
“I pledge to serve out my term,” Warren said.
Supporters of President Barack Obama’s health-care law have this response to the rocky rollout of the federal exchanges: It would have been smoother had states with mostly Republican governors set up their own state-based marketplaces.
Indeed, some of the early success stories in the implementation of the law have taken place in states – like California, Kentucky and Washington – that established their own exchanges.
By comparison, the federal exchange is responsible for a whopping 36 states, all but two (Missouri and Montana) of which are controlled by Republican governors. And Democrats allege that these Republicans – who typically go out of their way to tout states’ rights – opted out solely because of politics.
But politics isn’t the only reason why some of these states declined to set up their own exchanges.
They point to a delay in the finalization of rules and regulations, as well as wariness over the readiness of federal services needed for the exchanges.
“I could understand a state looking at it and saying, ‘We don’t want to get involved with it,’” said Henry Aaron, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.
“The federal government has failed in its responsibilities to implement this thing,” Aaron added.
States had until Dec. 14, 2012, to opt into running their own exchange.
“For us, there were just too many operational hurdles and issues and uncertainty to move forward with a state-based exchange. We just felt it was too risky, given what we knew at the time and where things stood,” said Don Hughes, the health-care policy adviser to Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R).
Hughes, who said the state was prepared to launch its own exchange, testified to the Senate Finance Committee in February, “We could not guarantee [services from the federal government] would be ready on time, and it just seemed too risky for us to move forward.”
As Hughes feared, the federal data services hub crashed as late as the end of October, creating an outage to the system relied on by states to determine whether people are eligible for a health-insurance plan.
Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam (R) waited until December -- days before the administration’s deadline -- to opt for his state to enter the federal exchange.
He released a statement at the time, saying, “The Obama administration has set an aggressive timeline to implement exchanges, while there is still a lot of uncertainty about how the process will actually work.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services delayed the release of its proposed rules and regulations for the exchanges, waiting until after last November’s elections. The rules were not finalized until the end of March.
“[The states] were limited because some of the details necessary for developing everything depended on federal guidelines and regulations, which they were slow to issue,” Aaron said.
States were left with restricted time to work with insurance companies on developing plans, reviewing those proposals and then designing and testing them in the exchange system.
Hughes said that Arizona originally planned to open the application process for insurers to submit potential health plans by Jan. 2.
Every state but Alaska and Florida spent federal funds on the planning of a state-based exchange, and many used millions more to design and develop their rollout. Arizona and Tennessee spent about $10 million and $2.5 million in federal funds, respectively.
“This decision comes after months of consideration and analysis,” Haslam said in his statement at the time. “It is a business decision based on what is best for Tennesseans with the information we have…”
Out of the 30 states run by Republican governors, only one of them -- Nevada -- is running its own exchange this year.
Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval told the Las Vegas Review-Journal last month that Nevada’s decision to run its own exchange -- and take as much control of the insurance system as possible under the law -- was the right one.
“I felt it was prudent and in Nevada’s best interest to have a state-run exchange, and I think that, at least over the course of a month and a half, I think that has proven out to be the more prudent choice,” Sandoval said.
Brookings Institution’s Aaron said Nevada could bring “very considerable credit” to the Republican Party in the state if they make the system work.
“I could well imagine that a state said, ‘This is our domain. We want to be responsible for how things operate in our state, and we’ll take this on,’” Aaron said. “If you think you can do a better job inside the state than the feds were going to do and you want it to work, you take it on.”
The office of Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) told NBC News in an email last month that, “Anytime a large scale program of this nature kicks off there are concerns along the way, but we feel that our state-centered process allowed us to address those.”
Kentucky, noted for the early success of its state-based exchange, officially opted to set up its own in July 2012 and --despite the lack of final rules -- worked closely with the insurers in the state this spring and summer on developing plans and reviewing rates.
“While some timelines may have been tight, we never had any doubt that [qualified health plans] would be approved and ready for shopping by Oct. 1,” the governor’s office added in its email.
The question is now whether states, like Arizona and Tennessee, will re-evaluate after watching other states weave through this first year. New Mexico and Idaho, both led by Republican governors, will launch state exchanges in 2014.
Federal planning funds available under the Affordable Care Act expire at the end of next year.
What do Republicans do next in the battle over health care’s implementation?... House GOP says it will continue to highlight individual stories… Obama’s latest health-care event: Urging attendees of the White House Youth Summit to spread the word to get insured… Obama to also talk about the economy at 11:15 am ET… Boehner hires high-profile immigration staffer… Dick Cheney says he was “surprised” by daughter Mary’s Facebook attack on daughter Liz… Crist’s top aide departs the campaign (this soon!)…. And on Rick Perry’s speech last night in the Palmetto State.
*** What do Republicans do next? The last month and a half amounted to an early Christmas (or Hanukkah) gift for the Republican Party. After losing the last two presidential contests, after the damaging government shutdown, and the midst of a still-ongoing ideological battle inside the party, Republicans clearly have the political advantage when it comes to health care. They scored points on the federal website’s woes; they bruised President Obama over those private-market cancellation notices; they’ve highlighted the security concerns; and they’ve played the card that Americans might not be able to keep their doctors. But are they beginning to run out of ammunition? Today, the National Republican Senatorial Committee is taking a page out of the 2010/2012 playbook hitting Senate Democrats on the well-worn $700-billion-in-Medicare-cuts charge (when House Republicans have adopted those very cuts -- to providers, not beneficiaries -- in their own budget); the NRSC says the hit is in response to the Democrats’ own well-worn Medicare attacks. But the fact they are playing this card says a lot. What’s more, as we mentioned yesterday, Republican leaders are no longer talking about repeal, which is now harder to pull off after Americans are purchasing their new health insurance. Per NBC’s Natalie Cucchiara, not a single Republican lawmaker used the word “repeal” on a Sunday show in the last two weeks. That’s not an accident. “Repeal” does not play well with swing voters.
Evan Vucci / AP file photo
Speaker of the House Rep. John Boehner, R-Ohio, listens to a question during a news conference after a House GOP meeting on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Oct. 15, 2013 in Washington.
*** House GOP says it will continue to highlight individual stories: House Republicans tell us that their plan is to continue to highlight individual stories about canceled plans and higher costs. “As they continue to lose their plans, find that every available replacement costs more, and lose access to their doctor, we will continue to highlight those issues,” House Speaker Boehner spokesman Michael Steel says. “There will be other issues along the way (security and privacy issues on the website, for example, or the limited options available under Medicaid), but hammering on the broken promises that people see every day will continue to be at the heart of it.” Fellow Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck adds that the NRSC’s Medicare hit “is a tried and true campaign hit, so it shouldn’t be surprising they are continuing to talk about it, but don’t let that give you any idea that we feel anything less than in the drivers’ seat with plenty to talk about.” In addition, several House committees -- including Oversight and Government Reform, Energy and Commerce, and Ways and Means -- are holding hearings on the health-care law and its rollout. But it does seem as we’ve entered a new stage in the health-care battle, with Democrats regrouping (and dare we say unified), and with Republicans running out of new attacks. It’s almost as if we’ve returned to 2012…
*** Obama’s latest health-care event: Meanwhile, continuing on their plan to hold a health care event-a-day thru Dec. 23, President Obama today will be hold another event himself. At 2:05 pm ET, he’ll deliver remarks at the White House Youth Summit, encouraging the attendees to spread the word to other young Americans to enroll in health-insurance plans. And tomorrow, Obama sits down with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews at American University.
*** “Which side of the barricade are you on?” Also today at 11:15 am ET, Obama will speak on the economy, discussing economic inequality and shrinking economic mobility. Aides tell us it’s fair to view this speech as a preview of a theme the president is testing out for January’s State of the Union address. But more importantly, it addresses an important point that Democratic strategist and longtime Bill Clinton political confidante Doug Sosnik made about the current political climate. “At the core of Americans’ anger and alienation is the belief that the American Dream is no longer attainable,” he wrote. “Previous generations held fast to the promise that anyone who worked hard and played by the rules could get ahead, regardless of their circumstances. But increasingly, Americans have concluded that the rules aren’t fair and that the system has been rigged to concentrate power and wealth in the hands of a privileged few at the expense of the many. And now the government is simply not working for anyone.” More from the memo: “Americans’ long-brewing discontent shows clear signs of reaching a boiling point. And when it happens, the country will judge its politicians through a new filter—one that asks, ‘Which side of the barricade are you on? Is it the side of the out-of-touch political class that clings to the status quo by protecting those at the top and their own political agendas, or is it the side that is fighting for the kind of change that will make the government work for the people…?’”
*** And how do you get on the right side of it? The president’s political team has been very good at getting on the right side -- rhetorically -- of this growing concern. The 2012 election is case in point (“fair shot” etc). But as a governing entity, the president has been unsuccessful at addressing this growing problem, with the big exception of eliminating the Bush tax cuts for the well-off. Sosnik, in his tour de force of a political memo, is essentially warning both parties that they’re on their way of being divided internally between the elites and the populists and it could crack them both in half in a big way. It’s this economic disparity that has fueled the rise of the Tea Party and folks like Rand Paul. On the left, it’s how Bill de Blasio brought liberalism back to New York City and why Elizabeth Warren is such a growing force herself.
*** Boehner hires high-profile immigration staffer: Your First Read authors don’t belong to the club believing that immigration reform is dead for the 113th Congress -- some sort of deal is still possible next year. And MSNBC.com’s Benjy Sarlin provides one reason why: “House Speaker John Boehner has hired a high-profile immigration adviser, his office announced Tuesday, a surprising move that pro-reform and anti-reform advocates alike interpreted as a step toward reform. Becky Tallent, an immigration policy wonk, is a well-known figure among immigration advocates, having helped spearhead Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain’s efforts to pass comprehensive immigration reform under President George W. Bush.”
*** Dick Cheney says he was “surprised” daughter Mary attacked daughter Liz on Facebook: In the latest news regarding the Liz Cheney-vs.-Mary Cheney family feud, father Dick Cheney said he was surprised that Mary and her wife attacked Liz -- who’s running for the Senate in Wyoming -- over Facebook. “We were surprised that there was an attack launched against Liz on Facebook, and wished it hadn’t happened,” the former vice president said yesterday at the National Press Club. “It’s always been dealt with within the context of the family and frankly that’s our preference.”
*** Crist’s top aide exits the campaign: This isn’t good news for Charlie Crist’s gubernatorial bid in Florida. The Tampa Bay Times: “In a bad sign for Charlie Crist's fledgling gubernatorial bid, his hotshot new campaign manager has left the team. Bill Hyers, fresh off his big New York City win managing the campaign of Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio, was slated any day now to start working full time for the former Florida governor and had already been introduced to donors. ‘It's early. Our campaign structure is still coming together. Bill wanted to stay in New York because it was good for him,’ Crist said in a brief email.”
*** On Perry’s speech last night in the Palmetto State: Per NBC’s Ali Weinberg, Texas Gov. Rick Perry served up the conservative red meat at a South Carolina GOP dinner last night, in which he slammed the Obama administration for exploiting "tragedies" to advance its gun control agenda and putting the fate of American health care into bureaucratic hands. But Perry, Weinberg adds, also laid out his vision for the future of the Republican Party, saying the GOP must not only be the "anti-Obama" party but also "the party of free markets and personal liberty." Perry's speech contained many hallmarks of his 2012 campaign stump, including talking about his humble beginnings in Paint Creek, Texas, where he never met a Republican until his late 20's.
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